Gestures in Bharata Natyam

Abhinaya is a Sanskrit term meaning (abhi -'towards'; ni-'to carry'). Thus it means reaching a performance to the audience. The main aspect of dance, the four-fold abhinayas are Angika (Expression through body), Vachika (Expression through speech), Aharya (Expression through ornaments) and Satvika (the refinement of the soul).


Angika Abinaya
is the use of gestures. There are slight variations in the numbers of gestures mentioned in the Natyasastra & Abhinayadarpana, but most of them have common names & definitions.


Head

Natyasastra mentions thirteen gestures
Abhinayadarpana mentions nine gestures


Eyes
(No common names in the 2 works)
Natyasastra mentions three main classes gestures (The first two classes are further divided into eight varieties each & the the third class has twenty varieties.)
Abhinayadarpana mentions 8 gestures


Neck
(No common names in the 2 works)
Natyasastra mentions four gestures
Abhinayadarpana mentions nine gestures


Hands
(Both works mention 3 classes. There are several gestures with common names, but the no. of gestures in each class varies)
Single-hand gestures: twenty-two gestures with common names

Natyasastra
Single-hand gestures: twenty-four
Combined-hand gestures: thirteen
Nrtta-hastas: twenty-seven


Abhinayadarpana

Single-hand gestures: twenty-eight
Combined-hand gestures: twenty-three
Nrtta-hastas: thirteen

Total number of hand gestures in Natyasastra - sixty-four
Total number of hand gestures in Abhinayadarpana - fifty-one